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March 24, 2008

Rosetta Genomics Identifies Source of Cancer of Unknown Primary with miRNAs

  • Rosetta Genomics demonstrated that miRNAs can act as effective biomarkers for identifying the primary tumor site in patients with cancer of unknown primary (CUP).

    “Accurately identifying the origin of a metastasis in CUP patients can be critical for determining appropriate treatment, and currently presents a true unmet diagnostic need for patients and physicians,” said Amir Avniel, President and CEO. “This research demonstrates the tremendous potential of microRNAs as effective biomarkers and is a significant step towards the development of the first microRNA-based diagnostic tests.”

    The scientists measured miRNA expression in RNA extracted from hundreds of formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded samples from more than 20 different known primary tumor tissues and metastases. The results obtained were used to build a classifier that assigns a primary site to a cancer sample based on its miRNA expression.

    The team then tried the classifier on a blinded test set. The overall sensitivity was approximately 85% with two-third of the samples being classified with high-confidence, reaching accuracy exceeding 90% and specificity of 99%, according to the company.

    Rosetta researchers were assisted by investigators at Soroka University Medical Center, Rabin Medical Center, Sourasky Medical Center, Bnai-Zion Medical Center, Sheba Medical Center, and Tel Aviv University. The paper was published online on March 23 in Nature Biotechnology.